Asian stocks rose this week, with the regional benchmark index capping its 12th week of advance in 13 weeks, as positive economic reports from the US boosted the outlook for the region’s exporters.
Toyota Motor Corp, Japan’s No. 1 carmaker, climbed 4.7 percent as the yen weakened against the US dollar. Li & Fung Ltd (利豐), a supplier of clothes and toys to Wal-Mart Stores Inc, advanced 7.6 percent as US retail sales, consumer confidence and employment reports exceeded economists’ estimates. China Railway Construction Corp (中國鐵道建築) dropped 8.9 percent after a section of a high-speed track it built collapsed in central China’s Hubei Province following heavy rains.
“The US still seems to be slowly but surely improving, and that’s definitely improving the mood of investors,” said Tim Schroeders of Pengana Capital Ltd in Melbourne. “Perhaps we are seeing a sustained devaluation of the yen, which would improve the outlook for Japanese exporters.”
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.8 percent to 127.95 this week. The measure, which has retreated for just one week since Dec. 16 last year, entered a bull market on Feb. 29, gaining more than 20 percent from an Oct. 5 low, after US economic optimism and monetary easing in Europe, Japan and China fueled the fastest rally in more than two years.
Taiwan’s TAIEX closed at 8,054.94 on Friday, a 0.4 percent increase from the previous week.
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.4 percent, as real-estate companies tumbled after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) said property prices are still too high in his concluding speech to the Chinese National People’s Congress in Beijing.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.1 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland Chinese companies declined 0.4 percent. South Korea’s KOSPI increased 0.8 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.5 percent
Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 1.6 percent this week, extending its rally this year as a weaker yen boosted the outlook for exporters. The gauge is 1.2 percent away from recouping its losses since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year left more than 19,000 people dead and missing and triggered the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
Toyota Motor Corp, Asia’s biggest carmaker by market value, gained 4.7 percent to ￥3,580. Hotai Motor Co (和泰汽車), a Taiwanese importer of Toyota vehicles and parts, soared 17 percent to NT$251, its highest since listing in 1997, on lower costs from the weaker yen. Hotai was added to the FTSE TWSE Taiwan 50 Index after the close of business on Friday.
The Asia-Pacific gauge rose 12.4 percent this year through Friday amid growing confidence in the US economy, Europe’s efforts to tackle its sovereign debt crisis and speculation China would further ease monetary policy.
Exporters gained as US applications for unemployment insurance payments fell by 14,000 to 351,000 in the period ended Saturday last week, US Department of Labor figures showed on Thursday.
Li & Fung climbed 7.6 percent to HK$19.10 this week in Hong Kong. James Hardie Industries SE, an Australian seller of home siding to the US, advanced 2.2 percent in Sydney.
In other markets on Friday:
Manila closed 2.27 percent, or 114.11 points, higher from Thursday at 5,145.89.
Wellington shed 0.81 percent, or 28.71 points, from Thursday to close at 3,505.02.